Q: I have four big crapemyrtles, about ten foot tall. Due to construction activity, they need to be moved. When should I transplant them and should they be pruned before or after the move? All four of them are going to a new home instead of being cut down and killed. If only two are needed by the person taking them, is there any place you suggest calling to inquire if they would be interested in having the crapes?
A: The crapemyrtles are pretty large to be moved but if you dig a big root mass, not necessarily a big, soil-filled root ball, they will probably survive. Your task is to bring the most roots to the new location, not the most soil.
Use a spading fork to explore the earth four feet in all directions around each plant. Identify the major roots and try to gently pull them from the earth. You’ll need to prune some of the side roots to loosen the big roots enough to get them free. Follow and preserve the big roots as far out as you can manage
Dig under each tree and sever any roots you find under the main trunk. With a lot of heaving and rocking of the tree you’ll be able to bring lots of roots out of the ground still attached to it. After the tree is loose, prune it back by half and move it to it’s new location – spreading the roots out as they were in the original spot. After an initial watering now, they won’t need irrigation until the leaves emerge next spring. Don’t forget to water weekly next summer.
Ask local houses of worship, schools and daycare centers if they would like to have the trees you can’t use.